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Dive Review of Rich Coast Diving in
Costa Rica/Pacific Side

Rich Coast Diving: "Left Out at Sea", Dec, 2003,

by Douglas , IL, US (Contributor Contributor 15 reports with 7 Helpful votes). Report 8646.

No photos available at this time

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations N/A Food N/A
Service and Attitude N/A Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 1 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 1 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments Though I had confirmed our reservations 3 times directly with Rich Coast's owner, upon arrival we were greeted with the comment "Oh, we thought you were coming yesterday, and we've had a lot of walk-in customers so we don't have any room for you on our boats tomorrow." This was not an acceptable welcome, and they finally said that they'd "figure something out." At the beach the next morning, we watched the Rich Coast guides try to unsort the confustion of gear, tanks and humans. One guide instructed us to wait on shore while he ferried a group of divers out to the dive shop's trimaran- "I'll be right back for you." After about 15 more minutes of waiting, we had to be raced out to the trimaran, which was already leaving the bay, since the guide had forgotten about us. The first dive was in 78 degree water at Villadora with foggy visibility of about 20 feet. Rich Coast hadn't sent enough tanks for the 2nd dive, so three "volunteers" had to miss out. While equalizing on our descent, the guide disappeared into the plankton haze, so I ended up resurfacing and shooting a compass bearing. Day Two had a little better vis at Punta Argentina, and the 2nd dive at shallow Estudiante was mesmerizing with its beds of fern-liike sea grass and fields of young and perfectly healthy staghorn coral. Day Three was Catalina Island. I started suiting up after 45 minutes of boating straight west out into the Pacific and discovered that Rich Coast had lost my 3mm shorty when they took my gear back to their shop the day before for rinsing and overnight storage. Upon descending on our first dive, the divemaster and his buddy quickly got separated from us in the poor viz, but we were pretty used to that issue in the poor viz on all of our previous dives. My wife and I continued the dive alone, hugging the wall to our right, knowing that the DM would be ahead of us. After 40 minutes, we figured we should do our safety stop. Upon surfacing, we heard the DM yelling "over herrrrrreeeeeeee" and after doing a 360, we spotted him and his buddy 50 yards away being pulled out away from the shore rocks and realized that our boat was nowhere to be seen, which was a bit of a problem since we were the only boat that had gone to the island! I focused on filling our large safety floats while my wife Lori watched to keep us from getting to close to the pounding surf on the jagged rock walls of the island, while we heard the divemaster's voice trailing away as he and his buddy were swept away past the north point and out into the open Pacific. Lori and I bobbed in the 3 foot swells and realized that the divemaster and his buddy had no safety floats and no mirrors, and the DM's airhorn had stopped working the moment his tank was empty. I sounded my airhorn regularly but quickly discovered that they're fairly useless facing into the wind. I took out my mirror and whiled away the time trying to stay calm for my wife while flashing the mirror 360. The safety floats were so large that Lori could actually sit on hers to help keep the saltwater out of her mouth. After an eternity (well . . . it seemed like an eternity but was only about 45 minutes), we saw our boat rounding the far north bend and the Captain immediately started waving at us from the long ways away cuz he could easily see our huge floats. It took him about 10 more minutes to get to us, and we climbed onboard and stood up to search for the other 2 divers. We knew the general direction they'd been pulled, but they didn't have floats and it took us 20 more minutes to find their heads bobbing up from the troughs of the swells far from land. It turns out that the dive shop didn't have room on their regular boats, so they had simply trolled the shore to find a fisherman to take us far out from the mainland in his no-oxygen, no-communications, non-diver ready fishing boat. My bad for not checking for those things! The next morning I discovered that my 3mm was missing again even though I had gone to the Rich Coast shop the previous evening to return it directly to my dive bag. I had watched it being carefully laid out by their excellent service-oriented DM Arnault, but by the morning, my gear was strewn all over the floor. I spent 40 minutes finding an ill-fitting replacement suit from their shop. Back at Catalina island for a 2nd time, we dove with a couple and the DM, Luis, who didn't bother wearing a computer and Lori noticed that he didn't hook up his air hose to his vest. He took us on three deep dives in a row. We monitored our computers to stay safe, but on dive 3, Luis quickly swam off into the foggy viz, leaving his female buddy behind. We pulled her to buddy with us, and I gave one end of my reel to them and swam forward into the no-viz to try to find Luis, who I eventurally found mindlessly swimming in the no-viz by himself. The water dropped to below 72, and that is way too cold for my 3mm shorty over a 1mm full suit, and way too cold for Lori's 5mm, even with our hoods. During the week, we ran into a couple of thick tornado swarms of snapper, and a big bunch of sergeant majors patrolling over cool-shaped rock humps, as well as 6 full-size white tips, a 3 second view of a giant manta, and the beautiful Estudiante dive site that I mentioned earlier. Thursday we showed up in the morning right on schedule and found a completely empty beach, so we walked a 1/2 mile back up the road to find the dive shop all locked up. It turns out that the owner had rescheduled the morning's dives to 11 rather than 9 without bothering to tell us. "Oh, I'm sorry," was her all too common explanation. The owner had promised us night dives during our 3 confirmation communications pre-trip, but none were available upon arrival. Web site mentioned "Visa and Mastercard" accepted, but failed to mention the 5% adder fee for using them. I had read real good things about Rich Coast in Undercurrent before going, but it didn't take me long to discover that it was a brand new owner running the shop, a young lady whose father had done the funding for her, not the owners that had received all of the previous great reviews! Whoops! We met several real cool divemasters, Arnault, his instructor dad, Christian, and Tristen were all true pros. Pura Vida!
Websites Rich Coast Diving   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Solomons, Truk, Yap, Palau, Coral Sea, PNG, Roatan, Maui, Jamaica, Florida, L'il Cayman and Cayman East, Belize Ambergris and Isla Marisol, Grand Turk, Cabo Pulmo, Cozumel, Dominica, Bonaire Fiji
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas choppy
Water Temp 72-78°F / 22-26°C Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility 10-25 Ft/ 3-8 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile ?
Enforced diving restrictions No restrictions, no safety checks of any sort.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? no

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 2 stars Tropical Fish 2 stars
Small Critters 2 stars Large Fish 2 stars
Large Pelagics 2 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter N/A Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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